ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers want to require companies behind detergent packets like Tide Pods to individually wrap each packet and change the colorful designs so they appeal less to children.
The bill comes amid growing concerns that children and teenagers are eating the packets, sometimes posting the videos online in what's called the Tide Pod Challenge.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and Sen. Brad Hoylman, both New York City Democrats, wrote a letter Monday to Procter & Gamble, which owns the Tide brand, urging them to take their own steps to make the products safer.
The legislation is a sensible measure to address the products' dangers, they said.
"We want to make sure these poisonings are prevented. It’s easy. All we have to make sure is that public safety trumps their profits," Simontas said at a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol.
The bill would also add detergent packets to other hazardous household products by requiring child-resistant packaging and clear labels.
"We’re asking for all laundry detergent pods to be uniform in color. We don’t need them to look like Gummy Bears in order for consumers to use them," Hoylman said.
"We need to impose clear warning labels on all packaging, including each pod."
The American Association of Poison Control Centers has said eating detergent packets can be fatal or lead to serious health problems.
Procter & Gamble responded in a statement, "There is nothing new in these legislative proposals."
The Cincinnati-based company said it already makes the packages child resistant and found from a review of data from the poison control center that "color does not play a critical role in a child's accidental exposure to laundry pacs."
As for individual wrapping, the company said it believes doing so would "not be helpful in reducing incidents and may have unintended consequences," such as accidental ingestion and the environmental impact of adding plastic wrapping.
"Finally, consumers have a choice: Those who prefer single colored pac can use Tide Free and Gentle, which is all-white. Tide is also available in a liquid and powder product form," the company's statement continued.
Procter & Gamble has undertaken its own public campaign to try to stop people from abusing their products.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, D-Queens, discusses legislation at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, to crack down on the abuse of Tide Pods. (Photo: Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau)
"Ensuring the safety of the people who use our products is fundamental to everything we do at P&G," David Taylor, the company's CEO, said in a blog post last month.
"However, even the most stringent standards and protocols, labels and warnings can't prevent intentional abuse fueled by poor judgment and the desire for popularity."
But New York lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups said more should be done, including the Legislature passing the bill.
"While our legislation would only protect New Yorkers, we urge Procter & Gamble and all manufacturers of colorful detergent pods to offer the same protections to the nation and immediately commit to the precautions set forth in our legislation," the lawmakers said in their letter.